Today, I have the privilege to share an interview I had with Dan Millman. Dan Millman was a world champion gymnast and is now a renowned author that has produced many books that changes people's lives. He is an athlete and author who inspires me to be the best that I can be. The knowledge in this interview can most definitely aid any athlete seeking to take their game to the next level.
PM: I absolutely love your philosophies and approach to athletics that you share in Body Mind Mastery. Through competing at the highest levels in gymnastics and coached at the prestigious Stanford university, you have found a way to successfully meld your philosophies into the rigorous, results driven, and cut-throat world of high level athletics. I have had troubles integrating your teachings while competing in track and field for Boston university. Would you have any recommendations to allow athletes and/or coaches to integrate your teachings into such an environment that is obsessively focused on the results?
DM: In reality, different coaches and athletes approach sport differently. There is no way around this axiomatic truth: We can control our efforts, but not the outcomes. But by making a strong effort over time, we increase the odds of reaching our desired outcomes. Period. Thus, effort is success (since it is all we can control). In fact, I define ‘success’ as: ‘progress toward a meaningful goal.’ Which can be in sport or in everyday life.
Sport is a metaphor of our larger life. The question is, how do you want to live? Life is a game we play as if it matters. The same is true for sport. Best to keep a perspective, and not tie our self-worth or identity too tightly to how fast we run on a given day.
PM: In your most recent audiobook that I have had the privilege to listen to, you mention how low self-worth is a common cause of a high rate of injuries. What are some recommendations to help athletes, who are more interested in championships than everyday enlightenment, improve their self-worth to allow them to achieve their full potential?
DM: See my book Everyday Enlightenment - first chapter on “Discover Your Worth” - or you can enrol in the (inexpensive) online course (via email), “Master the Path of the Peaceful Warrior” — the first (or second) lesson deals with essentials of self worth (and avoiding self-sabotage). It’s not magic, or any sort of technique to feel more worthy. It’s about recognizing the issue and treating ourselves as innately worth (as a human being).
PM: A follow-up on the previous question, in any competitive sport it is so easy to tie your self-worth to your performance in competition. Do you have any tips to allow athletes to discover their intrinsic self-worth no matter how poorly they performed.
DM: I believe I answered, or referred to this issue, above. You are not your performance. It is just one of the numerous things you do. You can control your behavior, but again — not the outcomes. Mistakes, and good days and less good days, are a natural part of the process.
PM: One of the pillars of talent you mention in Body Mind Mastery is suppleness. This is something that I particularly struggle with along with many of the athletes I work with. I have been fascinated with learning healing bodywork methods to help decrease the tension, but I found that the benefits tend to be short-lasting, and the tension comes back very shortly. What would you recommend is the best practice to sustain the quality of suppleness?
DM: I presume you checked out Bob Anderson’s book, Stretching? You know how to develop strength - applied, progressive training over time. Same with suppleness. You probably also know that too much stretching before a competitive event may reduce performance. Don’t make a fetish of it; you don’t have to be as limber as a ballet dancer. Just enough to reduce the risk of injuries. Research the Russian Martial Art of “Systema” online. Their fitness disciplines related to breathing, suppleness, and strength are unique.
PM: In the way of the peaceful warrior, you briefly allude to a form of self-massage that Socrates taught you to ease the stored emotional tension in your body. You briefly mention in other interviews and books you have written that it is a Mongolian self-massage. Are there any resources you would recommend to learn more about this powerful technique, or could you briefly walk us through a quick example about how to get started?
DM: Look up “Chua Ka” — the massage taught through Arica Institute. A big investment of time, but does help clear tension from the body. Occasional visits to an experienced practitioner of ‘myofascial release’ massage (Rolfing or Hellerwork) can be helpful as well.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Dan Millman. If you enjoyed this interview with Dan Millman and would like to explore his teachings, I would highly recommend all athletes to read Body Mind Mastery. One of my best friends and teammates gave me this book and it propelled my performance to the next level. If you are looking for a riveting parable that not only entertains but teaches, I would check out The way of the Peaceful Warrior: The book that changes lives. It was a book that came to me at the perfect moment that most definitely changed the course of my life for the better.
If you can't sustain it, it's not worth it.
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I am a medical student who is obsessed with the Be Activated Muscle Activation Technique, mastering movement and understanding what makes humans thrive.